Danny Gregory interviewed me about one of my favorite subjects: making art with kids

March 8, 2015 @ 7:59 am | Filed under:

Sketchbook Skool Q&Art video interview

Well, this was quite a treat. My recent post on ways to encourage a family art habit caught the eye of folks at Sketchbook Skool, which led to my being interviewed by Danny Gregory for a Q&Art video. As an eager viewer of this excellent video series, I was delighted to find myself chatting with an artist whose books and classes (I mean klasses) have been a tremendous source of inspiration and education for me. What a joy. Danny asked me for advice on encouraging creativity in children—one of my pet topics, as you know!

(Not included in the video: the two minutes of Rilla bouncing up and down in her overwhelming glee at meeting Danny, one of her heroes, via Skype just before we began the recording. She was absolutely starstruck. 🙂 )

(direct link)

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7 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Margaret @ Minnesota Mom says:

    Fun fun fun!

    (AND inspiring. )

  2. sarah says:

    Pausing the video to comment on the role of art in homeschooling – so many people I know have it as a side subject, or not even at all. As if art is something “artists” do and not really relevant to education. Coming from a Waldorfy mindset, I’ve always put art at the centre – even more than the subjects. It’s about what relationship we can develop and creatively express with whatever subject we’re learning, so instead of having “a history spine” to our homeschooling or something usual like that, we had a heart of creative expression, and like you said that always kept things fun.

    Also interesting: treating artists as heroes just as much as sports stars etc. This kind of goes without saying to me. Benjamin West, Michelangelo, writers too … these were people we got excited about in our early homeschooling years.

    And what you said at the start about having art supplies available for very small children. Yes, absolutely! It becomes just part of life. Never does the child have to struggle through the question of whether they “can” do art, because they already are, as a natural thing.

    One small disagreement – we did whole language learning here (actually, it kind of just happened) and it was the same with art. “Breaking things down” isn’t necessarily the best way for every young artist, and it helped me to get over that belief (it took a while!) and trust the child’s natural inclination and process.

    Sorry for such a long comment. This subject is so interesting to me. I really enjoyed watching the video and I have notes of things I want to contemplate further, and some questions in my mind too about art and the older student. Anyway, sorry again for rambling on. And thanks again for sharing the great video!

  3. Melissa Wiley says:

    “One small disagreement – we did whole language learning here (actually, it kind of just happened) and it was the same with art. “Breaking things down” isn’t necessarily the best way for every young artist, and it helped me to get over that belief (it took a while!) and trust the child’s natural inclination and process.”

    Yes, it’s challenging to address all the nuances in a short and fast-paced interview! 🙂 I didn’t teach reading via breaking down the parts either–I didn’t actually *teach* reading at all, to any of the kids, per se. They learned via abundant read-alouds, captions on television shows (we always leave the closed captioning on), lots of wordplay, nursery rhyme books, spontaneous abc games, conversation, computer games (the Muppet Babies phonics CD-rom was helpful for several of them), and BOB Books. Admittedly, BOB books work by breaking down the parts. 🙂 But that was always one small part of a big, rich picture.

    As for drawing, the Mona Brooks method was transformative for me personally and really clicked with some of my kids. Others didn’t need that kind of granular process; Rilla certainly sees objects she wants to draw as whole, interconnected shapes and she can translate that to the page. As with everything, I’m all about providing a variety of resources and opportunities so a kid (or adult) can experiment and find things that click. I kind of wish I could have that as a disclaimer attached to everything I say—that whenever I am talking about a specific resource (for any subject), I’m not making a blanket statement that this fits every kid. 🙂

    • sarah says:

      I hope so much you know that I loved all you said and actually the breaking it down into parts method works for me – for art, for many things, and especially for writing. I couldn’t move ahead if I didn’t do it! I was worried that my comment (as always, published too quickly) came across as negative. I just got caught up in the whole subject. I wish you had been writing and talking about this years ago when I really needed it most, lol!

  4. Melissa Wiley says:

    Oh! And one more point on the breaking-things-down method—in the conversation with Danny, my recommendation of Draw Write Now and Drawing With Children was in reference to kids who’ve hit the age (around 8 or 9?) when they are starting to get frustrated with their drawings, wanting to capture what they see realistically and feeling like their work falls short. Many, many people give up on drawing at that stage—most adults who “can’t draw” are people who got frustrated around that point of development and walked away, thinking “I’m not good at art,” “I can’t draw,” “I’m not an artist.” And watching with longing and envy as the artist kids drew wonderful things. 🙂 For people like that (like me!), discovering later in life (but preferably SOONER) that everyone can learn to draw is a revelation, and so very encouraging. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain *blew my mind* in college. But even then I didn’t persevere, not until these past six months. And I’m learning! It’s exhilarating!

    For THOSE kids, the frustrated ones, a little exposure to exercises like those in the Mona Brooks book can be tremendous confidence builders and may help the kid across that gulf that stymies so many of us. But I wouldn’t force them upon anyone who is moved to express themselves artistically in a different manner, nor would I ever turn it into something dry and teachy. 🙂 Jane enjoyed being led through the Mona Brooks exercises in the manner outlined in the book. I never pulled it off the shelf for Rilla or Beanie, but both of them have spent lots of time bent over Draw Write Now books, or the Usborne Drawing Book, or some chibi and manga drawing books we have—again, more resources strewn within reach. You can see lots of chibi influence in Rilla’s drawings. But her animals are highly influenced by Draw Write Now and How to Draw Birds.

  5. Hanni says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I have loved learning more about how you yourself have tried to learn to draw and how you have made it such a part of your family culture. It has definitely inspired me. I have a question. I have a 4.5 year old who is really into drawing right now. I find her often at our table drawing pictures of people, rainbows, flowers etc. I have thought about getting her the Usborn books you recommended on a post a while back. My fear in doing that is that she will start to think that is the only way to draw a certain animal etc? I want her to continue to draw more organically like she is right now but also don’t want her to get frustrated like you mentioned in your video. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on that. And if you think the Usborn books would be the best place for her to start?